ABUSE OF PROCESS.—The Court having inherent as well as statutory jurisdiction to protect itself from the abuse of its own procedure, may stay or dismiss frivolous and vexatious actions. It can do this at any stage, whether it be the plaintiff's case that is stayed, as showing no reasonable cause of action, or the defendant's defence that is struck out, as showing no reasonable ground of answer. The Court must, however, use a judicial d&cretion herein, and must not stay proceedings on any vague or indefinite principle. Consequently it is a jurisdiction very sparingly exercised, and only in exceptional cases. If a person maliciously, and without reasonable and probable cause, erroneously sets in motion the legal machinery to the hurt of another, the latter has a right of action against 'him for damages.
Some persons used habitually and persistently to institute vexatious legal proceedings, without any reasonable grounds, in the High Court, and in inferior courts, against the same or different persons, generally of high official position. Under the Vexatious Actions Act, 1896, the Attorney
General may apply for an order under the Act against any such person. The Court will then hear such person, or give him an opportunity to be heard, after assigning counsel to him, in case he is unable by reason of poverty to retain counsel. If the Court is then satisfied that the facts are as above, it will order that no legal proceeding be instituted by such person in the High Court, or other court, unless he first obtains leave of the High Court, or a judge thereof, and satisfies such Court or judge that such legal proceeding is not an abuse of the process of the Court, and that there is. primd fade ground for such proceeding.